You Need a Passive Candidate Recruitment Strategy Now More Than Ever

Unemployment remains at a low 3.9 percent, according the the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While this is considered good news for the nation, it puts recruiters in a tough spot. Finding qualified candidates is always more difficult in a shrinking labor market.

Simply put, candidates have more power during times of low unemployment. This makes your efforts to recruit passive candidates even more important.

What is passive candidate recruiting?

The best candidates for an open position may not be actively searching for a new job—but they could be open to hearing about new opportunities. These people are called passive candidates.

According to this Indeed study, 71 percent of employees said they are at least open to a new opportunity; 58 percent said they look at job listings at least once a month; and 44 percent receive job alerts in their inbox.

They don’t wait long to take a peek at what’s out there, either; 65 percent said they look at open positions within three months of starting a new job.

So they’re out there, and they’re at least willing to discuss a better opportunity. On top of that, you can usually trust their resume; it’s doubtful they’ve taken any creative liberties with it, because they’re not actively seeking employment.

Let’s look at how you can step up your recruitment of passive candidates.

Don’t wing it: Create a strategy for recruiting passive candidates

Attracting passive candidates isn’t easy, however. They’re not scouring over job boards and pouncing on opportunities like active job seekers are. You can’t just hope that the perfect passive candidate will stumble over your listing. You need a strategy.

Following is a five-pronged approach to finding passive candidates, building a relationship with them and getting your opportunities in front of them.

1. Go social

You’re already using LinkedIn to find candidates, and that’s good. LinkedIn is undoubtedly the most important social network for recruiters, and it should be your first stop when searching for passive candidates.

But Facebook and Twitter are gaining in popularity. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, 66 percent of HR professionals use Facebook and 53 percent use Twitter in their recruitment efforts. A couple points about each:

  • Facebook has a strong search function and is well-suited for searching for candidates. Search by job title, company or location, and don’t forget about Facebook Groups and alumni groups.
  • Twitter poses more of a challenge when it comes to search. Its value is more in building and engaging with a targeted following. While you can search hashtags and mine Twitter bios for keywords, you’re better off spending 30 minutes each day listening, replying and retweeting in a natural and relevant fashion.

Last bit of advice here: Don’t contact candidates via these two networks, if you can avoid it. Better to find an email address or their LinkedIn profile and reach out to them that way.

2. Build authentic relationships

We just alluded to it in the section above, but it bears repeating: Authentic engagement and genuine relationship-building tactics are paramount when recruiting passive candidates.

These relationships take time. You need to create them, tend to them and grow them. Don’t pitch right off the bat; that’s not genuine. Engage them first, make a personal connection, and interact in a way that says you’re interested in being helpful. Treat them with respect, focusing on what they are looking for in their career. You never know which ones will turn into a hire.

3. Tap your network

You already have a network; ask the people in it if they know anyone who would be interested in your opportunity. Even if you reach out to a prospect and they turn you down, follow up by asking if they have any referrals for you. The same rules about authenticity apply here, however. Be a giver, not just a taker.

4. Position the opportunity as a true career move

When you do have a prospect engaged in conversation, sell the career move, not the job. Focus on opportunity and growth. You don’t just have a job paying whatever-thousand dollars per year; you have a real opportunity to find more satisfying work, grow on a professional level and make a difference.

5. Keep things open

This month’s “not interested” could be next month’s “let’s talk.” Keep the lines of communication open and continue to interact with your contacts in a helpful fashion. When they are ready to seriously consider a move, they will love to hear from you.


The right relationship management system can help you run fast and accurate searches across all internal candidates as well as your job board applicants, all without leaving the platform. Relationships are what TrackerRMS does best—get empowered with the tools, data and analytics you need to be successful. Get a demo today.

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